How fit do I need to be to climb Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is the simple tortoise challenge: you need to go slowly and just keep at it. Absolute fitness is not as important as determination and guts. While we always recommend people do some proper aerobic and strength training before they attempt the climb and have advice on “Getting Ready” that covers this, we have helped lots of people summit who have done no more than weekend walking.
Q2How many days do I need to do the climb?
Although it is feasible to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in 5 days, we strongly recommend all climbers take at least seven days. The reason people fail to summit is mainly because they allow too little time to acclimatise to the altitude and no matter how fit you may be this is still the same. Our seven day climbs average over 95% success rates.
Q3Which routes do you recommend?
When people first inquire, they nearly always say they would like a silent route with an excellent success rate. Its the holy grail of route choosing. Sadly, though, the routes with high success rates are popular, and quiet routes are often quiet because they have a low success rate, or because they are much longer and more expensive.
(Trying to balance this out), our advice is to focus on the success rate: we can honestly say we have never had a client summit who has then complained the route was too busy, whereas we have had clients choose one of the quieter routes then be very disappointed at not making it to the top.
So taking this into account, we strongly recommend clients climb Kilimanjaro by either the seven day Machame Route or if they have the time and can afford it, the eight-day Lemosho Routes. Both routes have fantastic views, and a great range of scenery and critically they allow you great acclimatisation. In turns means, you have the best chance of summiting safely.
Q4When is the best time of year to climb Kilimanjaro?
A bit like choosing the best route, deciding on when to climb is a compromise. If it is certain to be dry and warm, it is equally certain to be busy.
Kilimanjaro is close to the equator, so there is a tiny change in temperature during the year and compared to the change as you ascend, the temperature change during the year is insignificant. What changes during the year though is how much it rains.
Mid-November to mid-December are traditionally the short rains and April, and May is the long rains. The rest of the year is dry although this is not so clear as it used to be.
Not surprisingly, most people want to climb Kilimanjaro when it is going to be warm and dry but that, of course, means the drier months are very busy. We try to mitigate this by starting most of our group climbs away from the weekend when almost half of all climbers start. If you don’t mind a bit of rain on your climb, though, the off-peak months will be reticent and there are often many days that are still dry. And of course in the off-peak months, flight prices and our prices are lower.
Q5How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?
The cost of climbing Kilimanjaro depends largely on how many days you take on the mountain. We recommend you take at least seven days as the success rate for seven-day climbs is almost 50% higher than shorter climbs. Prices for a seven-day climb start from £1399 and are a little more than this for private climbs.
Flight prices vary quite a bit during the year and are now a lot more expensive if you do not book early. Typically though you should budget between £700 to £800 for a flight from Europe and $2000 for a flight from North America.
The only other significant cost you will have on top of this for your Kilimanjaro climb is tipped for your crew. We are a member of the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Program and stick to their tip recommendations. Means for a typical seven-day climb; tips will be about $200-$250 per person.